Friday, January 21, 2011

Review: The Loved Ones (2010)

So, I got my mitts on a screener of The Loved Ones – the newish Aussie indie horror sensation. Being a giver, I burned a DVD copy for my blog buddy JA over at My New Plaid Pants. Even though I'd already watched it and scribbled down notes for this here blog post, I joked that he’d probably have a blog post up before I did, because he's fast and prolific and I’m … well … lazy.

 slow and steady wins the race, right?

So then like five seconds after I dropped the DVD into the mailbox ... JA had already watched it and posted a review on his blog … and what a wondrous review it was. Funny, intelligent, personal, sweet, grounded in sensation, and seemingly created in the length of time it will take me to decide how to end this sentence.

So naturally, my first thought was …


"jake gyllenhall and ryan gosling jello wrestling naked...stop. 
greta gerwig is the face of god ... stop."

I felt inferior, useless, ashamed. My inner Piper Laurie popped up and taunted me: “THEY’RE GONNA LAUGH AT YOU … THEY’RE GONNA LAUGH AT YOU … THEY’RE GONNA LAUGH AT YOU …” Even my inner Uncle Arthur showed up to crack wise.

"you blog like betty white power walks..."

Then shame turned naturally to anger. It wasn't fair. Damn him, damn his new plaid pants, and double-damn his ceaseless blogging competence. Yes, I went ugly. I even briefly contemplated revenge.

"...and michael fassbender has skinny legs!"

But thanks to some nifty impulse control and a deep seated fear of what happens to skinny, blond, laser-printer-paper white boys in jail, I knew not to act out this irrational flash of shame and anger. Because part of being a mature and sane person is learning to treat that little inner crazy jealous voice like the street corner Jesus freak that it is. You politely smile and continue walking down the sidewalks of your brain without paying mind to their mad barking.

Which brings me back, finally, to The Loved Ones. (SPOILERS AHEAD)

The Loved Ones gives us a new pink-eyeshadowed koo-koo-bananas to add to the horror cannon: Lola.

"When she squeezed me tight she nearly broke my spine. Oh my Lola"

Lola is neither mature nor sane and she does not ignore and dismiss her inner mad ravings. Nope. When she hears that inner crazy jealous voice, it's a Call to Action! So it makes perfect sense, then, that her response to a polite rejection for the prom would consist of the following: Kidnap. Incapacitate. Torture. Lobotomize.

The unlucky object of Lola’s affection is Brent. Writer/director Sean Byrne had the novel idea of making Brent … er … likable. There is really nothing not to like about Brent. He digs death metal, his dog and rock climbing. He lost his Dad through no fault of his own, but still blames himself and is borderline suicidal about it. Even when he rejects Lola, he is incredibly considerate of her feelings. He is not one of the typical bags of douche that we are accustomed to seeing and not caring about in modern horror movies (cough … Hostel ... cough … Friday the 13th). Brent is a real relatable kid with a loving worried mother and a sweet girlfriend who just want him to heal from the trauma of his father’s accidental death.

 Eddie Vedder called. He wants his early 90s angst back.. 

So not only do we like our protagonist Brent, but writer/director Byrne also sets up his antagonists as his perfect psychological foils. Lola becomes Brent’s tormenter, but she is also the manifestation of Brent’s own self-hatred . She is the homicidal outer demon to match his suicidal inner demon. Her parents … known only as Daddy and Brighteyes (love that name so much I am dry humping it with my brain) … are a Oedipal/Electra funhouse mirror reflection of his own family drama.

turn around brighteyes.

And you have to give it up for homegirl. Robin McLeavy’s Lola is one of my favorite horror performances of the past umpteen years. She is heartbreaking, ball-busting, and wicked with a nice dollop of freaky sex perv for good measure. She devours every scene she is in and then licks her garishly pink chops.

i like em tall, dark, and tortured

But TLO is by no means perfect. There are issues. First and foremost, we know where our bad guys/girls are at all times, so there is not a lot of good old fashioned “where is the killer?” tension and fear … except for one scene where a cop enters the blood-spattered house (without calling for backup, naturally) and forgets to … er … look behind him. Also there was a B-story that involved Brent’s stoner friend going to the dance which, while somewhat entertaining, served no purpose and never married up with the A-story.

However, The Loved Ones still rocks.  We care about our protagonist and his inner and outer torment. We see that he has a family that cares about him and is worried when he goes missing (when have you ever seen that in a modern horror movie? Try never!).  We are entertained by demonic Lola and her incestuous family, but we are also given sympathetic glimpses into the root of her evil (but our loyalties are always with Brent).

So when The Loved Ones is finally released in the US,  don't walk, run. 

run lola run

If you have a sick mind like mine, you'll probably enjoy it, though you may never look at a tea kettle the same way again.


  1. Ooh, sounds fun. Hope it'll make its way over to the UK at some point. Also, the Eddie Vedder caption made me cry laughing.

  2. Because I'm hopeless, I only just noticed the new profile pic. Super cute!!!

  3. The B-story that involved Brent’s stoner friend? It does link up, sort of tangentially. After the dance, you discover that the girl he dated is the sister of one of the boys who disappeared. You see his photograph on a nightstand.

  4. @jinx: *blush* thanks.

    @bcarter: I really liked the fact that the damaged chick his friend was with was the sister of the victim from the beginning. I just wish they milked it more by having her more involved in the battle scene. Also it would have been more interesting if she was Brents girlfriend and they were bonded through tragedy. Would have made the girl fight even more resonant. Nitpicking I know, but that was my reaction.

  5. the black haired girl was also the cops a pretty unfortunate girl indeed.Excellent movie